§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON,
in rising to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether his attention has been called to the evidence taken at the inquest held upon the death of an officer in the Royal Marine Barracks at Chatham; and whether any and what steps have been taken to prevent the irregularities disclosed by the evidence? said, he thought that their Lordships would remember the case in question, which had happened a short time ago, in which a 557 young officer had committed suicide in the Marine Barracks at Chatham. An inquest had been held on the body, and it had transpired at the inquest that a young woman of improper character had been present in the officer's quarters at the time. The Queen's Regulations were very strict on this subject, Commanding Officers being charged to maintain order and prevent the admission of disorderly characters into barracks. The instance in question was, unfortunately, not a solitary one, a case having been brought to notice at Aldershot some time ago; and, on inquiry, he found that such occurrences were not infrequent. It was said that there was great difficulty in stopping the practice. The example was a very bad one for the soldiers; and he could not help thinking that there were ways and means of putting a stop to these objectionable practices.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (The Marquess of RIPON)
said, that he was not surprised that the noble Viscount had called attention to the unhappy circumstances which had been made public in the course of the inquest held at Chatham the other day. He could assure him that he entirely sympathized with the opinions he had expressed with regard to the importance of putting a stop to such practices as he had alluded to. The existence, however, of these practices was not the fault of the Board of Admiralty, a definite and distinct Order having been issued on the subject, dated the 4th of June, 1869, to the effect that Commanding Officers should strictly prohibit the admission of improper characters at any time and under any circumstances. As soon as the attention of the Board of Admiralty was called to the case full inquiry was ordered to be made into the whole circumstances; but it was found that unfortunately the order had fallen into desuetude, and the present Commanding Officer at Chatham, who had only been there for a year, was quite unaware of its existence. Since the occurrence at Chatham the attention of all Commanding Officers had been directed to the Order, and they had been instructed to enforce it with the greatest strictness. The matter was still under the consideration of the Admiralty, with a view of seeing if anything further could be done to prevent such scandals in future.